Exclusive Interview to :



Cartesius



Interview by Jerry Composano

Digital Artworks proudly presents Anders Kjellberg, also known as
Cartesius, master modeler and digital artist.


Digital
Artworks
Cartesius, welcome to Digital Artworks. We have proudly displayed your works in our galleries for some time now. Thank you for sharing your awesome work with us.

 

Cartesius Thank you very much, Jerry, I'm very honoured indeed.

 

Digital
Artworks
Tell our readers about Cartesius. Where are you from, what do you do in life? Do you make a living with artwork?

 

Cartesius Well, my name is Anders Kjellberg, I'm 32 years old and I live with my fantastic girlfriend Sofia and our smooth Fox Terrier Huxley in Umeň, way up in the north of Sweden. I moved here to study literature at the university back in 1991 and somehow I stayed. Currently I'm a doctoral student with the Department for Historical Studies and since the late 1900s I've been trying to write a dissertation in the history of science on the Swedish Aurora Borealis research conducted during the second half of the nineteenth century. It's pretty much straight forward history of science. I have some teaching now and then, mainly on the life sciences from 1800 to 1900 and the history of technology. I'm also responsible for typesetting the department's dissertations and various other written material we produce and although it's not getting me rich it does keep me financially going. That said, my explorations into the world of 3D is not something that brings any money. Rather the opposite -- right now I'm planning an application upgrade for $170, and I definately need more RAM and... Well, you get the picture.

 

Digital
Artworks
Our viewers sometimes assume the better modelers and artists are professionals with years of graphics education. Have you had any formal training in art?

 

Cartesius No, none whatsoever. I sometimes wish I had taken some courses in art but no, I've never gotten around to it. I've always enjoyed drawing and painting, but to tell you the truth I'm not very good at it. It wasn't until I discovered Strata 3D back in the mid 90s that I found that my Macintosh could actually be a creative tool for me. It took some time for me to realize what I could do, though. Strata 3D came free with an issue of MacFormat so I installed it, played around with it for a week or two and then removed it. Some time later I came across some fantastic renderings of cigars (I'm an avid cigar smoker!) and the guy that had done the renderings said that he had used a 3D application. Which application I've forgot but I figured that if he could do stuff like that maybe I can do it to, right? So Strata 3D was installed once more and the first thing I modeled was - a cigarr, the same cigar that can be seen in "PC Gaming". After that I heard about Bryce, tried a demo of version 3 and that sweet little app really got me hooked so I ordered Bryce 4 not soon after. The modeling abilities of Bryce are not very good, except for displacement modeling - you can create stuff with just a greyscale image and the Terrain Editor that would literally kill other apps! I think Bryce is an excellent little application and one should not limit oneself to just landscapes with it, although that's what it's primarily designed for. That said, I discovered Cinema 4D XL about two years ago. It was installed on a Mac in one of the computer labs of the university and I felt right away that this was the 3D application for me. One year later I purchased Cinema 4D XL 6.3 via a student license and I haven't regretted it for a second.

 

Digital
Artworks
The image that first led me to your site was "SleepyHollow". In my opinion, that is spectacular modeling, especially done entirely in Bryce. Your bio page states that modeling is not your "cup of tea" and that you would probably stick to rendering. Tell us how you feel about that now. You are still constructing beautiful models.

 

Cartesius Thank you, "Sleepy Hollow" has gotten alot of attention, even from more "serious" modelers wondering if I actually did it in Bryce. Usually they are quite surprised that you can use Bryce for other stuff than landscapes. On a more personal note I can confess that so far I've only done one landscape, "Nova" , in my entire Bryce-career I've also started exploring the modeling aspect more and more the last year or so. I think that statement on my bio page originated from the fact that I was then still very much a Bryce-user. You can make fantastic things in Bryce but in order to get the more realistic aspect of your creations you will sooner or later have to step outside of Bryce and start looking at more sophisticated modeling apps. At that time I was testing various packages (Strata, Pixels, Cinema 4D and so on) and when trying them out I came to the conclusion that I will never be as good a modeler as I am a Bryce texturer. The Materials Lab in Bryce is very powerful and you can create almost any type of surface with it. So that's why I will stick to texturing, Or rather, was sticking to texturing. Right now I'm using Cinema 4D pretty exclusively and it's so intuitive and easy to work with regarding modeling so I'm slowly reconsidering that original statement. The funny thing is that in C4D I find modeling easy and texturing difficult! I have dozens of models lying around on various CD's and they're all lacking one important factor textures. One day I will probably finish them, but I want to hone my modeling skills some more first.

 

Digital
Artworks
"A text book", "A pack of Cigarettes" , "a PC Gaming magazine", ordinary objects are not usually considered art, but your presentation of ordinary objects transform a pack of smokes to a rembrandt! How do you come up with this stuff? Where's your inspiration?

 

Cartesius My primary inspiration has always been the world around me, the ordinary world. Sure, I've done some space-ships and some hovering chrome balls over water but they never really excited me. What I like to do is to take a simple, ordinary object like a pen, a book or something like that, something that's just lying in front of you every day without you ever noticing it and then try to re-create that object. We live in a world that's full of lights, shadows, shapes and textures, and when I model a pen or a lighter, I try to get it as realistic as possible. So the inspiration to create something can come from just taking a walk and spotting a smashed up Coke can, or just sitting in front of my computer (there's always loads of stuff piled up on my desk and I have a hard time keeping it from tipping over) and noticing that Staedtler pen lying in front of me. Inspiration is everywhere but I very often find it hard to make something of it - I can have serious (and frustrating) blocks when I can't do anything. I spend 6 hours in C4D and still I end up throwing it all away! I think we've all been there ). Another great source of inspiration is other people's work. If I find animage I like or is intrigued by, I usually try to re-create that image somehow. I like to study those images just to try and understand how theydid it - what technique did they use to make that engine, how did they light it and what is texture and what is geometry? The point is not to imitate and then pose it as my own work - that is a big no-no. The point is to learn and to learn it from someone who knows how to do it. You can spend hours trying to figure out the principle for the wheel but once you see it you know how to solve similar problems in the future. And that's one of the major issues when it comes to galleries like Digital Artworks you provide inspiration (and ideas) for others to enjoy and to explore further.

 

Digital
Artworks
My favorite work of yours is "At Least There's Paper" . Without getting too personal, (LOL), tell us what inspired this image. Its amasterpiece, but an un-ordinary choice for a subject.

 

Cartesius Ever seen the movie "Trainspotting"? I haven't. It's actually true - I've never seen it but apparently there's a scene in the movie where some guy is toilet diving and the bathroom in that scene is said to be really disgusting. The funny thing is that everyone assumes that "Trainspotting" was where I got the idea. Well, I didn't. Instead I was browsing around the web one day and stumbled across a rendering of a bathroom. It was your standard 3D rendered bathroom - all shiny, sparkling and full of wonderful reflections and I thought "Why are almost all 3D rendered bathrooms always so clean?" I decided that I would do a really dirty version of a bathroom and basically ditch all those reflections we all love and cherish. "At Least There's Paper" was really fun to do and the scene itself is rather simple - it's basically just a couple of 2D planes, some terrains and some models. Much of the impact comes from the textures and the image was actually nominated for The Torus Awards in the category "Best use of textures". It won. There's something to be learned here, I think. A 3D scene can basically be broken up in three parts geometry (or modeling), lighting and texturing. "Weak" geometry (like the low-polygon models in say Half-Life or Quake 3 -- excellent models, but not very detailed) can be disguised by "strong" texturing and lighting, but no matter how good the geometry, it can be ruined by bad texturing. You can also cheat alot with textures and thus save the polygon count. Need ridges? Don't model them, apply a bump map instead! This of course depends on what you're planning. If your aim is to render a high resolution close-up of a circuit board, then you need to put in the actual geometry. if your aim is to place the circuit board in a bigger scene, then consider using bump maps.  Returning to "At Least There's Paper", I must confess I owe the title of the image to my girlfriend. When I was finished I asked her to get a look at it and she did. A long, hard look and then she said "Well At least there's paper!"

 

Digital
Artworks
How did you chose the name "Cartesius" and what brought about the web site?

 

Cartesius I started playing Quake 2 online around 1998 and at that time I was reading some texts by the French 17th century philosopher RenÚ Descartes and Descartes Latin name was Cartesius. When I was to choose a nick for my first online deathmatch I realized that all were using nicks like "L33T3" or "MastahKilla" so I boldly typed in "Cartesius" and ever since it has been my cyber-signature.

The story of the web site has basically to do with my engagement in a group on Usenet called alt.binaries.3d.bryce (<newsalt.binaries.3d.bryce). I discovered the group soon after I had purchased Bryce 4 and started posting my images there. I got a lot of feedback and I soon understood that most people had web sites and I also understood that most online judging galleries, like Digital Artworks or Bryce Forum, requires you to have your images online somewhere and then provide the link. And if I wanted anyone else besides my girlfriend to ever see my images I needed to get online.

From that point it was just a matter of learning Claris Homepage and - later - Dreamweaver. I've been rather busy at work these last months with lots of work and my computer crashing, so the site hasn't been updated as it should, but I will do it as soon as possible. I'm also thinking about getting a domain of my own since GeoCities ads and limited file transfer rates are driving me nuts. I'm looking into various solutions and will probably make the switch in a couple of months

 

Digital
Artworks
What do you think is your best piece of work, and which means the most to you.

 

Cartesius Hmmm... That's a tricky question. Almost everything I do mean something to me at one point or another, they all more or less reflect something of me and who I am. But if I were to choose one I consider to be my best image it would probably have to be a tie between "At Least There's Paper" and "Sleepy Hollow". They are both images I did just for the fun of it and I think that's one of the reasons why they have become two of my most popular images. I think "At Least There's Paper" shows that I must have had a good time when I did it. They also mean very much to me since these two images has received so much positive attention. For me they represent the fact that I can do stuff appreciated by others.

Another inage I would like to mention that mean alot to me is "The Study"  which is my first serious attempt at going all the way in C4D. I worked on it on and off for about a week before going public with it and it has received some very positive feedback from experienced C4D users.

 

Digital
Artworks
What do you do for entertainment when you are not creating art?

 

Cartesius I'm always in front of the screen - ask my girlfriend. It's not quite true, but I do spend a lot of time in front of my computer. When I manage to drag myself away I try to spend time with my girlfriend and our dog, Huxley. Huxley is a smooth Fox Terrier and hence he's full of energy - take him for a two hour run and you┤re just warming him up. Both my girlfriend and I are very interested in movies and our movie collection (VHS, not DVD) is close to 500 titles, and we add one or two titles every week. Another favourite hobby of mine is reading. As a historian of science and ideas you are more or less forced to read extensively, but I quite enjoy it. The last couple of years I've been drifting away more and more from pure fiction and almost everything I read nowadays is non-fiction - history of science, history of art and other boring stuff ;) But I do read fiction, don't get me wrong. Right now I'm spell-bound by Philip Pullman's "The Amber Spyglass", the final part of the trilogy "His Dark Materials", and it's absolutely marvellous.

 

Digital
Artworks
I ask all the subjects the same question...who is your favorite artistand what is your favorite creation of another artist.

 

Cartesius Also a tricky one. Right now I'm very, very influenced by Igor Posavec (http://www.3d-io.com). He has that perfect blend of fantasy and reality that is sooo hard to achieve - just check out his telephone! My favourite creation by another artist is nearly impossible to pinpoint, there are so many. When it comes to traditional media, though, the answer is quite easy Albrecht DŘrer (1471-1528) and every single brush- or penstroke by him!

He's probably my greatest source for artistic inspiration ever and I actually owe almost two years of studying the history of art to that German Renaissance artist! Man, talk about influence.

 

Digital
Artworks
Now for the techy stuff, Anders. Tell our readers about your machine.

 

Cartesius Up until just a few months ago I was sitting on a PowerMac 4400/200 with 96MB RAM, purchased in 1997. I had an external hard drive and external CD-RW to boost. It was a slow but stable machine - may it rest in peace (wich, by the way, is on the floor beside my desk). My machine right now is an iMac 600 with 256 RAM, hooked up with a Wacom tablet, a Microtek V6 USL scanner and a HP DeskJet 930. It's a standard consumer setup and it serves my purposes very well, but some more RAM is a must. Of course, if someone would throw me a dual 800 Mhz G4 with a 22" Apple Cinema Display I wouldn't say no :- )

My primary applications are Bryce 4, Cinema 4D XL 6.3, and Adobe Photoshop 5.

 

Digital
Artworks
What do you see in the future of graphic art, and how will it fit into your life?

 

Cartesius I think computer generated images and art is something we will be hearing more and more of. Today computers are used to some extent in almost every single Hollywood production and apart from being just a tool in the hands of professionals, I think the computer will be recognized to a higher degree as a tool for creativity. You can buy a decent computer and more or less make your own 3D movie, like Captain 3D using C4D for his "Pump-Action" (http://www.captain3d.com) or Bruce Branit and Jeremy Hunt using Lightwave for "405 The Movie" (http://www.405themovie.com/). Computer and art have a bright future, believe me ) And where do I fit in? In say five years from now, I think I will still be making images with my computer (hopefully a G5!) and maybe I can make some money on it, but that┤s not that important to me - as long as I can be creative I'm perfectly happy. I would like to explore more of the conceptualizing aspects of digital creation, though. You know, someone walks up to you and says "Here you have the blue-prints, here you have the color-scheme. Now make it in 3D!"

Another part of digital work I like to explore is book layout and design. As I mentioned above, I do alot of typesetting for my department and recently I've also been requested to do the covers for some dissertations (including my girlfriend's - we work at the same department). These covers has been highly appreciated and if I could combine my typesetting skills with my layout skills, I might have something going in a year or two.

Unfortunately, not many historians require 3D stuff on their covers... ) Anyway, I will add a "Typesetting & Layout" gallery to my homepage soon and we'll see what happens.

 

Digital
Artworks
Digital Artworks and myself extend our sincerest thanks for your participation, Anders, and hope to continue displaying your fantastic works.

 

Cartesius Thank you, Jerry, and you'll probably be seeing me around for some time yet!

Anders (aka Cartesius) 
Cartesius's Creations (

 


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